The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Erin Zylstra, SNRE Ph.D. Student Awarded the 2014 William G. McGinnies Graduate Scholarship in Arid Lands Studies

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Erin Zylstra is a Ph.D. student in SNRE with an interest in investigating anthropogenic effects on natural resources, especially populations of vertebrates that inhabit arid regions.  Since moving to Arizona more than 16 years ago, Erin has worked on a number of ecological projects, many with direct applications for conservation and management of threatened species.  Erin received her Master’s degree at UA in 2008, where she assessed habitat use and survey methods for long-term monitoring of populations of Sonoran desert tortoises.  More recently, she has collaborated with biologists at various agencies and UA to evaluate more than 20 years of survey data for desert tortoises to explore the effects of drought and climate change on survival and ultimately population viability of this iconic species.

Currently, Erin is studying population dynamics of amphibians in the Sky Island region.  Specifically, she is investigating how landscape structure influences both hydrologic conditions and demography of lowland leopard frogs and canyon treefrogs in desert mountain canyons.  Understanding how hydrologic conditions affect amphibians and other wildlife that inhabit the Sky Island region is particularly important in light of climate change, which is likely to reduce availability of surface water in mountain canyons.  To date, Erin has co-authored four peer-reviewed papers and has two additional papers in review.  Erin is hoping to complete her Ph.D. in 2016 and pursue future opportunities as a post-doctoral scientist.